Diaper rash cream can protect a baby’s soft skin, but can it also soften a thick psoriasis plaque? “Just been reading about Desitin Maximum Strength diaper cream — apparently it can treat psoriasis with great results,” one MyPsoriasisTeam member wrote.
“Get some A+D diaper rash ointment,” another member replied. “It will protect and heal your skin. It also stops the flakes better than any other oil or cream. It will soften plaques, so that they can come off very easily.”
Diaper rash cream is available in most grocery and drug stores, making it an easily obtained and affordable treatment for dry, irritated skin. Read on to learn about diaper rash cream ingredients, whether it’s recommended for psoriasis, and how to apply it safely.
Diaper rash cream is a substance with a thick consistency — often a gel or paste. It’s typically applied to a baby’s skin to provide a barrier between the skin and the diaper. This helps reduce painful irritation, reduces moisture, and protects skin from rubbing against other nearby skin.
Most diaper rash creams are made with zinc oxide or petroleum jelly. Zinc oxide and petroleum jelly can each create a waterproof layer on the skin to protect against friction or rubbing. Less commonly, diaper rash cream may include ingredients like cod liver oil, calamine, lanolin, calendula, bentonite, and corticosteroids. Sometimes nystatin or clotrimazole, two antifungal medications, are added to these products, since fungus and yeast often accompany moisture in the diaper area.
Zinc oxide also has skin healing properties. It’s the main active ingredient in Desitin Paste Maximum Strength and A+D Diaper Rash Cream. Zinc oxide can be used to prevent and treat minor cuts and burns. It’s also used as an ingredient in sunblock.
Petroleum jelly is often used for dry skin relief, for protection of minor cuts and scrapes, to prevent chafing (e.g., for runners in between their thighs), and to hydrate nail cuticles. Common petroleum jelly-based products include those made by Vaseline and Aquafor.
Because zinc oxide and petroleum jelly have so many applications, it’s natural that people with plaque psoriasis are curious about whether these products might help their skin too. There is almost no dermatology research investigating the use of zinc oxide cream for psoriasis plaques.
While other forms of zinc — including topical zinc pyrithione and oral zinc sulfate — have been studied in people with skin conditions like psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, those are not the same types of zinc as the topical zinc oxide found in diaper rash cream. There is currently no evidence for the safety or usefulness of zinc oxide in treating psoriasis skin plaques.
Some topical treatments for psoriasis, including anthralin and tazarotene, can irritate the healthy skin on the border of psoriasis plaques. To prevent this, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends placing either zinc oxide or petroleum jelly on the skin surrounding the plaque to protect it.
Petroleum jelly has been more widely studied as a moisturizer for psoriasis. Research has shown that petroleum jelly can improve dry, itchy, scaly skin. It’s also a common base for prescription topical treatments. It seems to be most effective to apply petroleum jelly after a bath or shower, when the skin is warm and moist.
Genital psoriasis is a bit different from other areas of plaque psoriasis, given the sensitivity of the skin in that location. Not all psoriasis treatments can be safely used in the genital region. Talk to your dermatologist before using any topical products — even diaper rash cream — in your genital area.
Diaper rash cream is overall quite safe to use. There are a few key points to be aware of so you avoid any trouble. First, it’s a good idea to always ask your doctor before trying any new creams or pastes. You don’t want it to interfere with any prescription topical medication.
You may also want to patch test any new product on a small area of skin and wait a couple of days before using it on larger areas.
You should also:
Fortunately, there are very few side effects to diaper rash cream. Some people may have allergies to either the cream itself or to the fragrances it may have. People with psoriasis or sensitive skin should purchase a fragrance-free option to avoid potential irritation.
There is limited information about whether zinc oxide is safe to use during pregnancy, but petroleum jelly is considered safe to use during pregnancy and also safe for children.
Other side effects of diaper rash cream may include:
Always talk to your primary care doctor or dermatologist about diaper rash cream before applying it to your skin for the first time. It’s important to make sure it won’t interfere with your existing psoriasis treatment options and topical medications.
MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and their loved ones. On MyPsoriasisTeam, more than 117,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with psoriasis.
Have you tried diaper rash cream for your psoriasis? What tips do you have about over-the-counter topical treatments for plaques? Share your experience in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.